Songwriting: Harmony

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Authored by Jimmy Kachulis

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Course Code: OSONG-316

Next semester starts Jan 9, 2023

Level 3

Level 3

3-Credit Tuition

$1,515

Non-Credit Tuition

$1,265

This course presents the "power progressions" behind countless hit songs, and dozens of ways to adapt these progressions into your own personal songwriting. Whether you are an experienced songwriter looking for new ideas or a beginning songwriter who can't read music, this course will lead you to a rich source of songwriting possibilities. You'll use techniques such as modulation and cadences to craft the essential dramatic architecture of your songs. By participating in a group of songwriters, you'll have the opportunity to share your work with others, get their feedback, and see different ways that these tools can be used, under the mentorship of a master songwriter.

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By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Generate a groove and chord colors
  • Identify five common key colors
  • Understand and build songs from power progressions
  • Use melody and harmony for color
  • Use cadences and connecting songs with cadences
  • Understand modulation in songs
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Syllabus

Lesson 1: Generating A Groove and Chord Colors

  • Parts of a Groove
  • Developing a Groove
  • Four Chord Colors and Lyric Stories
  • Changing Colors of Chords - Variations

Lesson 2: Colors of Keys and Songs From Progression

  • Five Common Keys Colors
  • Building Song By Repetition
  • Contrasting Sections

Lesson 3: Power Progressions

  • Major Key
  • Minor Key
  • Mixolydian Key
  • Dorian Key
  • Blues Key
  • Building Songs From Power Progressions

Lesson 4: Rhythm Variations of Power Progressions

  • Progression Length
  • Chord Rhythm
  • Chord Order

Lesson 5: Song Sections From Rhythm Variations

  • Contrasting Sections
  • Two Sections ­ Two Progressions
  • Three Sections ­ Two Progressions

Lesson 6: Pitch Variations of Power Progressions

  • Subtract Chords
  • Add Chords
  • Replace Chords
  • Add Pedal Parts

Lesson 7: Song Sections From Pitch Variations

  • Contrasting Two Sections
  • Contrasting Three Sections

Lesson 8: Melody and Harmony

  • Coloring a Word
  • Coloring a Phrase
  • Coloring a Lyric Section

Lesson 9: Ways of Coming Home

  • Full Cadences
  • Half Cadences
  • Deceptive Cadences
  • Plagal Cadences
  • Mixed Cadences

Lesson 10: Song Sections Using Cadences

  • Verse/Refrain
  • Verse
  • Chorus
  • Bridge
  • Connecting Sections With Cadences

Lesson 11: Modulation

  • Parallel Key Modulation
  • Relative Modulation
  • Surprising Key Modulation

Lesson 12: Modulation In Songs

  • Modulation In A Section
  • Modulation Between Sections

Requirements

Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

  • Familiarity with popular music song form
  • Basic proficiency on a harmonic instrument
  • Ability to create a melody (optional)
  • Ability to create original lyrics (optional - will be provided, if needed)

Required Textbook(s)

Software Requirements

  • Word processing program that can open and save documents in Rich Text Format (RTF)
  • A basic audio recording tool that will allow you to record yourself and save the recording in MP3 format. You will have a tool to use for this purpose inside the learning environment. Alternatively, you can use software like Audacity (PC) or GarageBand (Mac) .

After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact support@online.berklee.edu for any questions.


General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of  Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection

Instructors

Jimmy Kachulis

Author

Jimmy Kachulis teaches songwriting and lyric writing at Berklee, conducts clinics nationwide, and has helped thousands of songwriters develop and maximize their skills. Look through the bios of some of today's best songwriters, and his name comes up again and again; his students' works have earned Grammy nominations, and been recorded by a vast range of artists on major and independent labels. An accomplished composer, arranger, and conductor, he has worked with great artists like George Coleman, Jon Hendricks, John Lewis, and Martha Reeves, and his compositions have been featured on scores from The Sopranos to Touched by an Angel. Jimmy's songs and arrangements for "Island Breeze," by legendary guitarist, Eric Gale, have been re-released and distributed worldwide under the Warner Brothers label.


Neil Diercks

Instructor

Neil Diercks is a Los Angeles-based songwriter, song coach, and musician. He served for many years in various capacities at Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., in Nashville, beginning as an intern and eventually becoming Manager of A&R Activities. It was within this role that he worked with hit songwriters including Gary Burr, Steve Bogard, Stephony Smith, Jeff Stevens, and Victoria Shaw, who penned hits for artists such as Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Ricky Martin, and Christina Aguilera.

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Neil is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Berklee College of Music, where he studied songwriting, voice, and music business, and went on to serve on the Board of Trustees for three years. He has lectured and led songwriting workshops internationally, and has won several awards for his teaching, including the UPCEA Excellence in Teaching award (2015); the Pearson Excellence In Online Teaching award (2015); The Berklee College of Music Distinguished Faculty Award for Berklee Online (2016). He currently collaborates with songwriters and artists in Los Angeles and around the globe. Read Less


Noah Lubert

Instructor

Noah Lubert is a songwriter, keyboardist and producer based in Nashville, Tennessee. His credits and collaborators include Emily Rowed (604 Records), Nate Smith (Sony/ATV), Brooke Alexx, Chris Condon (Billy Ray Cyrus), Angie K, Lily Kincaide and Jaclyn Kenyon. Since relocating to Nashville, Noah’s songs have been included on top country Spotify playlists and tours. His continued passion for education and academia have led to teaching stints on Berklee’s Boston campus at Aspire: Five-Week Music Performance Intensive and Berklee’s Summer Songwriting Intensive, as well as continued work teaching Songwriting and Production Fundamentals for Songwriters through Berklee Online.


Questions?

Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at advisors@online.berklee.edu.

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